Smedley Butler

Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler is well known for having later become an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences, as well as exposing the Business Plot, an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.

Bronze-service-star-3d.png Bronze service star

By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

Butlerandfriends.jpg Butler (far right) with three other legendary Marines. From left to right: Sergeant Major John H. Quick, Major General Wendell Cushing Neville, Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune

In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to other Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations. A final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler's testimony.

Butlerlecture.jpg Smedley Butler at one of his many speaking engagements after his retirement in the 1930s.

In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.

Butlerretirement.jpg Major General Butler at his retirement ceremony
Butlerveracruz.jpg Marine Officers at Veracruz. Front row, left to right: Wendell C. Neville; John A. Lejeune; Littleton W. T. Waller, Commanding; Smedley Butler
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Dominican Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
Gallentry Storming of Tientsin.png Butler being carried on the back of another Marine to safety across a river at the Battle of Tientsin.
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Marine Corps Brevet Medal ribbon.svg
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal ribbon.svg
Medal of Honor ribbon.svg
Mexican Service Medal ribbon.svg
Navy Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg
Nicaraguan Campaign ribbon 1912.svg
Ordre de l'Etoile Noire Officier ribbon.svg
Philippine Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
Smedley D. Butler at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1922.jpg Butler sitting in car at Gettysburg during a Pickett's Charge reenactment by Marines in 1922
Spanish Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
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World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg
Yangtze Service Medal ribbon.svg

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